Yesterday, I posted that the best way of analyzing an NFL team's draft is to use a similar method found in real estate appraising. Below is an explanation of that approach and my perspective on the Giants' Day 2 selections.
I think this site has some of the most intelligent and insightful analysis of the Giants, so I'm eager to hear the fans' feedback. I hope my analysis helps fans to look at the Giants draft a bit differently, it sure has for me!
Forget draft grades, mock drafts, and big board rankings. These are often subjective evaluations that say more about the ego of the evaluator than the perception of actual NFL decision makers. What makes a particular selection a "great value" or a "reach" often comes down to whether a team selected who the pundit thought they should select. I have often fallen for the "we could’ve drafted player X" trap. However, I have since learned that the best way of analyzing a team’s draft in terms of maximizing value per pick is based on where comparable players ACTUALLY got drafted. Just like appraising real estate, you must look for comparables that were recently SOLD in similar neighborhoods/locations. To analyze value according to mock drafts or grades is like analyzing a house's value based on the listing or asking price. There is often a huge divergence between the perceived value of the seller's listing price and what a buyer (NFL team) is willing to pay. We can never know, immediately after a draft, whether a player picked in the third round was actually a first round talent. What we can definitely know is that a player projected to be a first rounder (listing price) was in fact a later round value (sale price).
Take for example Morgan Moses, a pre-draft pundit favorite that had been consistently mocked in the first round to the Dolphins or the Panthers, but actually got selected in the third round by the Redskins. We know that Morgan Moses did NOT have a first round value because EVERY team drafting passed on him for TWO rounds in favor of other players at his position. This seems like an obvious observation, but it is the most solid ground to start from when analyzing a player’s perceived value. We don’t know if Morgan Moses was in fact a worse value than a third rounder, but as value is determined in other fields, we know that a third round pick is what an actual NFL team was willing to pay for him. Just like at an art auction, there can be the "ugliest" painting up for bid, and everyone in the room can pass on bidding, but it only takes one person to pay $1,000 dollars to make that "ugly" painting a $1,000 dollar painting. So with that framework in mind, I will try to make sense of the New York Giants 2014 draft selections over the course of the next few posts.
Why did Giants Nation love the idea of drafting Martin at 12? One of the reasons was that he could play Guard or, possibly, Center. Well, guess what Giants nation? Weston Richburg can play Guard, and ACTUALLY plays Center, a position where the Giants have no depth. So why despair when the Giants obtained a player at pick 43 that has very comparable attributes to the player you wanted at pick 12? Does the level of competition between Notre Dame and Colorado St. make Martin a full round more valuable than Richburg? Perhaps. Both players possess intelligence, versatility, high character, and sound technique, but Richburg has actually played center at a high level.
But why didn't the Giants take a left tackle, which certainly has greater positional value than a center!? The Giants have players that can do the job at tackle and guard, but they have no one other than oft-injured J.D. Walton (or possibly Snee) to play center. Everyone, including the Giants’ front office, said Pugh has "left tackle feet", and he was drafted precisely because he can fill in many holes that the oline may have. Beatty, given his contract extension, is not getting cut and will return from his injury. Schwartz has started at right tackle and both guard positions. Jerry has started at guard. The offensive lineman available when the Giants picked Richburg were (in the order they were picked): Kouandjio (could've been medically red-flagged), Mewhort (no one had him rated higher than Richburg), Justin Britt (who?), and Morgan Moses (clearly not valued as second rounder by NFL teams when Mewhort and Britt were drafted ahead of him).
But you say, "they could’ve gotten Marcus Martin or Travis Swanson in the third and instead drafted tight ends Amaro or Niklas in the second." True, both of those TEs were second round values. However, the positional value of a center towards running a high tempo passing attack, given the Giants’ depth at center, is greater than a third or fourth option pass catcher or extra run blocker. Further, Martin was a completely different style of center, more of a mauling power run blocker and not an athletic zone blocking lineman. Swanson or Stork were centers clearly not valued by NFL teams in the first two rounds.
What kind of interior linemen ARE valued in the first two rounds? Let’s look at what actual NFL teams paid for these intelligent, high character, versatile interior lineman who can play guard or center. (Forget about Cooper and Warmack in 2013 because they had rare physical attributes for interior lineman that got them drafted in first half of the first round.) David Decastro, guard from Stanford, went to the Steelers with the 24th pick in the 2012 draft. Travis Frederick, from Wisconsin, was the highest rated center in the 2013 draft and was drafted by the Cowboys 31st overall. Going back a bit further, Nick Mangold, center from Ohio State (generally regarded as the best center in the NFL), was drafted by the Jets with the 29th pick in the 2006 draft. Alex Mack, center from Cal, was drafted by the Browns with the 21st pick in the 2009 draft. The Pouncey twins were drafted with the 15th and 18th picks in their respective drafts. All of these prospects, like Richburg, were rated by the pundits among the top 3 at their position. So push Richburg down a bit for being from a smaller school, and first half of the second round sounds about right.Bottom line: The Giants paid good value for Weston Richburg with the 43rd overall pick.
So why was Giants nation pining for Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald? Because the Giants need depth and interior pass rush from their defensive line, and Donald was the best prospect to come out in years at the penetrating "3-tech" position. Oh, how quickly we forget. Sheldon Richardson was a very similar prospect (undersized, pass rushing, DT) last year and was selected 13th overall, EXACTLY where Donald was selected. As mentioned previously, Sharrif Floyd, was also similarly touted and the Giants passed on him in the first round. So how unique is Donald as a prospect?
So you lust after QB pressure from the DT position and Donald was the best last year. True, Donald led all DTs with 11 sacks last year. Who was second? Oh, Jay Bromley with 10 sacks! Who was third? Oh, Kelcy Quarles with 9.5 sacks! I wonder how many Giants fans would have been complaining had we spent the 74th pick on Quarles and signed Bromley as UDFA? As for the other highly touted first round pass rushing DTs, Richardson and Floyd, they had 6 and 4.5 sacks respectively in their CAREERS! So you say you can get a player with double digit sack production and don’t have to spend a first round pick? Yea, his name is Jay Bromley.
Oh, but "we could’ve drafted Will Sutton and Louis Nix who were more highly rated." Well, Sutton had character/work ethic concerns and his productivity drastically declined in his final year. Nix, also had character issues regarding motor and being distracted from football by social media, AND he was more of a "zero tech" or "one tech" in the same ilk as Jonathan Hankins.Bottom line: The Giants paid good value for Jay Bromley with the 74th overall pick.